Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ryan Pyle Blog: The Supply Problem

I am not afraid to say it.

I USE FILM.

I do, I love film. While it's true that digital technology has come a long way, I still believe there is nothing better than a grainy moment in black and white.

Now, I have all the digital gear, the 20D's, the 30D's the XPD's and whatnot, I use them - I am up to date with all of my technology. But if I have the time and I am working on something I really care about, then it's a film moment - simple as that, I prefer film.

The sad reality is that I am in the minority. And in China, where I live, I am a dinosaur. Which is funny because I have not yet hit my 30th birthday. Perhaps the best way to describe me is old fashion or a traditionalist.

Without drifting on a tangent, I have a problem - a supply problem. No I am not in to heroin or anything like that. I need film and lots of it. But I am suffering from local supply issues. While I could walk in to almost any store in Shanghai and buy a 4gig SanDisk CF Card, I have to wait days and days for "my people" to find enough 800ISO fuji negative film to make me happy. This problem has become so big that I have begun buying in bulk and my fridge is now full of film - everything from transparency 100ISO to black and white kodak to my beloved "I don't need a flash" 800 ISO.

I got an assignment a few days ago in central China and I have a few days to organize myself before I go. The first call was to my film delivery man - I needed one hundred rolls of 800ISO, he had ten only. When I asked him why, he said plainly: "You are the only one who buys it, and the last time you called me was a month ago". Right, fair enough.

I called about 3 different suppliers and they all had the same take, sorry - we only have a handful of rolls. When I asked when I would be able to purchase more they were clueless. The frustration is setting in.

So, will I be forced to go against my traditional ways and shoot an entire week long assignment in digital? Will I have to carry around external hard drives and endless batteries and cables, cords and laptops....or can I bring 80 rolls of film and a leica. Due to my supply problem, it seems my decisions have already been made - it's all so very China.

So, when photographers discuss the on going debate about film vs. digital I never hear the "supply problem" get brought up? Maybe not often enough. But let me tell you, I am buying a second fridge and I'm going to have stocks of the stuff from now on. A world without film, its a scary thought. I may have to hang up the camera and enroll in law school. Too serious? Perhaps, but don't back a wild animal in to a corner and think it won't fight. Anyone have the phone number of any of the executives at Fuji?

Ryan Pyle
Photographer
China
ryan@ryanpyle.com
www.ryanpyle.com
Skype: ryanpyle

3 comments:

  1. Get someone to post it to you from outside of China!
    I know here in bkk, we can get a fresh supply of film when needed and I've been thinking of moving back to film (especially since Im considering the Hasselblad H2 camera instead of my 1d/1ds)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Daniel,

    Thank you very much for your reply. I was thinking about having someone send me some film via Hong Kong. But I called DHL, FEDEX and CHINA Post and they all told me that their cargo xray machines are NOT FILM SAFE.

    I am not sure what other options are available. It is becoming a big problem. Major suppliers like Fuji and Kodak are not shipping enough film to China because 99% of the Chinese shooters are using digital and the local camera shops don't want to waste the space for something that is not being bought.

    I need to find some solutions fast. Anyone out there have any ideas?

    Ryan Pyle
    Photographer
    China
    ryan@ryanpyle.com
    www.ryanpyle.com
    Skype: ryanpyle

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well the plan is for me to be out there early next year, so if needed, i could always bring a massive box with me?

    drop me a mail and let me know anyway, no skin off my back to do that for you

    ReplyDelete

Hi,

This is Ryan Pyle. I appreciate you adding a comment to my blog and I hope that this space has offered you something useful and interesting. I look forward to staying in touch and I'm glad you took the time to comment.

Ryan Pyle
ryan@ryanpyle.com
www.ryanpyle.com